Utah Kicks off Pac-12 Play in Eugene


Cassandra Palor

Paola Van Der Even (14) dribbles past Nicole Molen (11) during the Utah Utes Women’s soccer tie game versus University of Southern California at Ute Soccer Field in Salt Lake City, UT on Saturday, September 23, 2017. (Photo by Cassandra Palor/ Daily Utah Chronicle)

By Casey Overfield, Sports Editor

In their first Pac-12 conference game of the 2018 season, the University of Utah soccer team is traveling to Oregon to face the University of Oregon. Heading in to this match up, Utah holds a 3-4-1 record.

Utah is looking to improve during this Pac-12 season from last year, where they went 5-11-3 overall and managed no wins during conference play. Their record for Pac-12 play was 0-9-2, but the Utes are looking to turn that around this season and come out stronger and with more confidence than they did last season. Now with a handful of wins under their belts, the Utes have the momentum to be successful.

In their last game, the Utes defeated the University of Nevada Reno 1-0 at home. Hailey Skolmoski scored the only goal of the game, her fourth of the season, tying Paola Van der Veen for the team lead.

This game winning goal was the 11th game winner of her career, and it pushed her up to a tie for fifth place in Utah history for goals scored, with 26 so far in her career.

Before this victory, the Utes suffered some tough losses against non conference teams. Three of their losses occurred on late goals. Utah managed to get ahead in these games, only to lose their lead at the close of the game. This happened against BYU, Kansas, Minnesota and Oklahoma, but the victory against Nevada lightened the hit of these losses a bit.

“It is good to end with a win,” Skolmoski said. “We had a little bit of a rough patch, but I am really proud of how we ended it, and it feels good to go into Pac-12 on a high note.”

Against Oregon, Utah is 9-3-1 overall, and they are 5-2-0 since joining the Pac-12 in 2011. Last year, the Utes fell 3-0 to the Ducks after going into the game with some forward momentum.

In 2016, Skolmoski scored in the second half of the game to bring the 1-0 victory home, and in 2015, Paola Van der Veen scored one of two Utah goals in a 2-0 shutout.

“As long as we stay confident, I think we will do really really good,” Van der Veen said. “We just have to take it one game at a time. Oregon is a tough opponent, but I think we are good enough.”

The Utes are looking to have a successful start to their Pac-12 season, and Van der Veen is confident in the team and their ability to get a win. She believes that as long as the team plays aggressively and carries over the momentum from last game, that they will find success.

Kickoff for the game will be on Friday, September 21 at 7 p.m. PST in Eugene, Oregon.

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